Performing for Seniors

Discuss your favorite platform magic and illusions.

Postby Guest » 11/14/07 10:18 AM

Hi,

I'm curious to know what materials may be available regarding performing in nursing homes or for seniors. I've heard this discussed here and there, but i can't recall what publications, if any, deal with this directly.

I'm interested in performing in a home for the elderly, where a friend is now living, but thought i should do a little research first, in case there is anything i should know before going in...

Thanks!
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Postby Mark Collier » 11/14/07 11:00 AM

Talk loud, go slow, use big props and don't be offended if some of them snore.
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Postby Guest » 11/14/07 11:09 AM

Magic makes children of everyone....I have seen regular kid shows bring out the kid in seniors...

Most seniors I know would be offended if an entertainer treated them differently than everyone else in a performance. That also goes for Special Ed kids or foreign-language audiences...

Viewers of magic want to see the best that a performer has to offer. Give it to them...

The only tips I can offer other than the above are that you might slow down, speak clearly, and lengthen the time you display something for just an extra heartbeat or two, for the hearing and visual impaired folks...

Here is an experiment you can do to illustrate the above comments: Do the Sponge Bunny trick for some kids and then for some senior groups. The reactions should be about the same...

opie
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Postby Guest » 11/14/07 02:06 PM

You will be best served if you speak with the activities director before the show to get a feel for the range of abilities of the attendees.
Not everyone in a retirement home is senile, blind or deaf. Treat them like adults. Those that are impaired will become evident, and accomodate accordingly without detracting from the enjoyment of the group. Have an aide or nurse that you can turn to for help should someone react unexpectantly. This has happened to me a couple times. No big deal, but you should be prepared.

Most importantly, connect with the retirees as people. Talk with them before the show. Enjoy the time with them and take the time after the show to sit down and talk with some of them. More important that talking to them, listen to them. You'll be glad you did.
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Postby Bob Farmer » 11/14/07 03:10 PM

One of the more interesting performances I have witnessed was Max Maven performing before a seniors club that Stewart James was a member of at the time. They were plenty sharp -- but so was Max.
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Postby Guest » 11/14/07 04:00 PM

i got a couple of questions.

1. is it a senior group or an assisted living facility?
...there's a big difference between the two.

2. if it is a assisted living facility,
are you comfortable performing in such an environment?

I have performed in several and its not everyone's cup of tea.
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Postby Guest » 11/14/07 05:06 PM

Thanks, everyone, Mark, Opie, for your replies and ideas.

Eric, that's a good idea to check in with the activities director beforehand, thanks. Also, the nurse bit and being sure to communicate with attendees before and after. Good stuff.

Mai-ling, I don't know if my friend is living in an assisted-living facility or not. Thanks for bringing it up. I'll find out.
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Postby Guest » 11/14/07 08:54 PM

when performing in assisted living homes,,treat them like any other audience,,,they are sharp as hell, and have lots of memories,,since my retirement i do assisted living shows, and donate the money to animal aid. i go to the dollar store and buy plush bunnies, my closing trick is the production of a live rabbit,then i give everyone in the audience a plush bunny,,they love it, sometimes my helper takes digital photos of everyone and we give them 4x6 prints which we do on a portable epson print mate (100.00) SPEND A BUCK OR TWO,MAKE SOME OLD PEOPLE HAPPY,,YOU MIGHT BE OLD SOMEDAY YOUR SELF...DO NOT TALK DOWN TO THEM
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Postby Guest » 11/15/07 07:01 AM

Stan is right about some of them being
sharp as hell. Because not all of them
are in assisted living for memory care
but because they can't physically care
for themselves by themselves any longer.
Due to arthirits and stroke, so on.

I think the bunny idea great...especially
for the holiday season. But that can be
quite expensive if you don't have the budget
for that.

For some reason, I can't picture Stan working
the assisted living circuit.
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Postby Danny Archer » 11/15/07 08:28 AM

Years ago I did a bunch of shows for a group of Senior Centers... they were a great audience... best tip I can give is instead of asking someone to join you on stage, go into the audience yourself to have the card picked etc.

You will save a lot of time...
Producer of MINDvention
mentalism convention
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Postby Guest » 11/15/07 09:18 AM

A tip I got from someone is when you need a volunteer who would need to remember a card, etc. for a period of time, use one of the employees. It still works and entertains but you don't risk the chance of getting someone with a short attention span.
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Postby Guest » 11/19/07 08:38 AM

I've done a few of these types of shows and I've found that the audience is just as interested in me as a person, as they are interested in the tricks (perhaps even more). They were very interested in how I got into magic, etc (more so than the 'average' audience) and many of them told me stories of the first magician they ever saw. The members of the audience really seemed to crave the interaction more than sitting watching tricks. The first time I did one of these shows, I ended up staying an extra 20 minutes with the group just chatting. I've now built in time for that during the show. At first I felt that I might be 'cheating' the client, but the positive comments keep flowing.
Bottom line for this post - it's not the tricks, it's the experience and the interaction.
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Postby Guest » 11/19/07 02:25 PM

Very perceptive, Dan!!!

Don B
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Postby Larry Horowitz » 11/19/07 04:19 PM

Only one suggestion....

Do not perform any trick where the spectator has to follow instructions, i.e. deal three piles etc.

Many seniors do not hear or do not follow all of the instructions.
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Postby Guest » 11/20/07 05:48 PM

The area I live in has quite a few of these facilities. I have done shows for some where the audience is able to really be a part of the show, and I have also done the other end of the extreme, working shows at an Alzheimer's unit in a large facility. That one was really a challenge, but it still went over great !

For the residents who are not as sharp as they used to be, I try to use large, colorful props, and always take my time while speaking to make sure they understand what is going on at the moment.

I try to take my son along to assist, as the residents love to see children. I also encourage the staff to have their own kids come on the day of the show, provided it is after school hours. If I get enough children, I have them come up to assist, which the residents LOVE to watch !

These shows are very fulfilling....

Mark Pettey
Naples, FL
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Postby Guest » 11/20/07 09:04 PM

Although we do not know if he is doing a
show at a Senior Center (which is a
place where Senior's hang out but do not live)
or an Assisted Living facility (where Senior's
live) that has a Memory Care facility (for
those with Alz. & Dementia (usually Stroke related)

The real point is JUST BE ENTERTAINING.

Remember, you are bringing a show to them they
are not able to go out to. If you can give
them entertainment that will make them smile,
relax, laugh and enjoyable where they will
sit there and talk to you even after you
finished performing and WON'T LEAVE.

then you did you job.

you'll be asked back to perform again.

Doing the assisted living show circuit is
probably one of the best in the world.
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Postby Pete Biro » 11/20/07 09:45 PM

I'v only done these a coule of times.
More often I did shows for military hospitals.

THE MAJOR COMPLAINT I ALWAYS HEARD;

"We get dozens of shows around the Christmas season, but almost none the rest of the year."

so, friends think abour doing these year 'round.
Stay tooned.
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Postby Guest » 11/20/07 10:02 PM

that is true...for most people.

for me its year round.
especially summer and fall.

however, the budget is fatter for holiday shows.
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Postby Guest » 11/21/07 08:25 AM

For those of you thinking of doing this type of show:

Mentally prepare yourself for a more subdued reaction to your material. It will vary with each audience, but the general rule that I've encountered is that seniors react with less vigorous enthusiasm than other audiences. This is not (necessarily) an indication that they don't enjoy you. During my first show of this type, I was feeling bad that they weren't having a good time, but afterwards I got lots of enthusiastic compliments about the show - some from the people I had thought were the most bored. So, hang in there and keep delivering the goods. It will be appreciated.
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Postby Guest » 11/24/07 04:54 AM

MAI LING SAID IN A POST,,"I CANT SEE KRAMIEN WORKING TRHE ASSISTED LIVING CIRCUIT" I DONT SEE WHY NOT,,I AM A PRETTY DAMNED GOOD MAGICIAN..HERE IS SOMETHING I DO..AFTER THE SHOW THEY USUALLEY DONT WANT TO LEAVE,,SO WHILE MY ASSISTENT IS PACKING UP I TELL THEM "I HAVE BEEN IN THE BUSINESS A LONG TIME, BECAUSE I AM AS OLD AS MOST OF YOU,,IN THE DAYS OF VAUDEVILLE, I WORKED WITH A LOT OF BIG STARS, AND ALSO ON T.V. SO IF YOU GUYS HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, FIRE AWAY..OH HOW THEY LOVE TO TALK ABOJUT THE OLD DAYS, THIS IS ALSO A GOOD TIME TO TAKE PICTURES OF THEM WITH THE RABBITS I GIVE THEM. I TRY TO WORK ONE A MONTH....IF YOU DONT NEED THE MONEY, AHVE THEM MAKE OUT THE CHECK TO YOUR FAVORITE CHARITY...I GIVE THE MONEY TO INTERNATIONAL PRIMATE PROTECTIVE LEAGUE.
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Postby Guest » 11/24/07 07:48 AM

Originally posted by KRAMIEN:
MAI LING SAID IN A POST,,"I CANT SEE KRAMIEN WORKING TRHE ASSISTED LIVING CIRCUIT" I DONT SEE WHY NOT,,
Can you picture dad working the assisted living circuit?

I can't...and you both are high caliber
magicians that only those today strive to be.

Its nothing to do with creditability.

You both have so much creditability that there's
a reason why you both (and others) are considered
legends in the business today.

It just doesn't fit well in my head.
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Postby Guest » 11/24/07 09:58 AM

Marty Hahne has posted a wonderful article full of tips and insights for performing for seniors. Check it out on his website at

http://www.dazzlingmagic.com/magic_for_ ... idents.htm

and send thanks to Marty. -Mitch Dutton
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Postby Guest » 12/01/07 01:39 AM

Mai Ling,,,I just put two and two together,,I know you (when you were just a little girl) indeed your father is a ledgend in our art form. somewhere in all the melee around here I have photos of him performing at ABBOTTS, please go to my web magicjamboree.com, I have created a get together out here in the west, you should come...my LOVE to your mom and dad...I am now 82
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Postby Guest » 12/06/07 12:03 PM

Thanks, everyone, for your replies. You've all gotten my imagination going--i appreciate the head-start!

I found out that it is, indeed, an assisted-living facility. I stopped by last week, and it looks fine.

The show's tomorrow, i'm looking forward to it.

Thanks again!
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Postby Mark Collier » 12/06/07 01:27 PM

Break a hip!
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Postby Guest » 12/06/07 05:33 PM

Originally posted by KRAMIEN:
Mai Ling,,,I just put two and two together,,I know you (when you were just a little girl) indeed your father is a ledgend in our art form. somewhere in all the melee around here I have photos of him performing at ABBOTTS, please go to my web magicjamboree.com, I have created a get together out here in the west, you should come...my LOVE to your mom and dad...I am now 82
Dad will be 82 on the 31st, as well.

Since his massive stroke 9 years ago,
his doctor rather he'd have short trips.

I don't know about plane trips.
But then I've been trying to get
him up to Abbotts for the past
2 years and he say's "no."

I'd love to go and visit Oregon. It would be
great! But going alone wouldn't be the
same with out my p's.

We went to the collectors to visit with friends
on the last day as usual. Did the KoS market.
He was soo revved up he wanted to go all 3 days.
My dad is a goof. First he say's no, and then
he's all excited like a social butterfly,
all chatty, my mom too (she can really talk
magic), when they are around magi.

I just like to prance around like a brat.


:D
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Postby Guest » 12/06/07 05:39 PM

Originally posted by daimodess:
Thanks, everyone, for your replies. You've all gotten my imagination going--i appreciate the head-start!

I found out that it is, indeed, an assisted-living facility. I stopped by last week, and it looks fine.

The show's tomorrow, i'm looking forward to it.

Thanks again!
Good Luck!

I did a speaking presentation/concert last
Wednesday for the AL section.

Then did another concert on Sunday afternoon
for the Memory Care/Alz. Section.

I never performed the MC/A section ever.
It was an interesting experience!
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Postby Guest » 12/24/07 07:46 AM

I have often found that tying some comedy into magic can prove successful when performing for seniors.
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Postby Brandon Hall » 12/24/07 10:31 AM

wait a minute...comedy and magic...I've got an idea... ;)
"Hope I Die Before I Get Old"
P. Townshend
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Postby Guest » 12/31/07 07:44 AM

You might not want to perform any 'PK' or mentalism effects using a magnet or electric touch. The last thing you want is to short out someones pacemaker and be known as the magician who whacks old folks. :(

JDC
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Postby Guest » 01/01/08 04:07 PM

I never understood why anyone would choose to do the Electric Touch bit in the first place. Are we supposed to be torturing our audiences or entertaining them? Regarding magnets -- if you don't get them near the sensors and/or control units for the pacemakers, you are very unlikely to cause any trouble.

I can't overemphasize a couple of things about "nursing homes." Frances touched on this in one of her posts. There are different kinds of facilities.

There are Senior Centers, where Seniors hang out and socialize. These are usually normal people with fairly decent reflexes.

There are Senior Living Facilities. These are facilities that have some seniors who are mobile and sharp and some that may require some supervision.

There are "assisted living facilities" -- which have residents that may require medical supervision and/or attention.

There are "nursing homes+ -- which have residents that require fairly constant attention.

Some facilities have departments for all of the above.

Just don't assume that because someone is more than 50 years old, that his brain has fallen out. He may be sharper, smarter and quicker than you are.

Never get into an arm wrestling match with John Calvert.
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Postby David Fletcher » 01/31/08 09:01 AM

Great responses!

I do the occasional show for seniors. They can be the greatest audience. Appreciative, fun, and can give the "hottest" responses of any audience. They rarely hold anything back, nor should they. As the old saying goes, "oh, if i were only 35 years older." :)

Enjoy them, and they will enjoy you.
David Fletcher. Actor, Magician, Sailor, Ideal Dinner Guest
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Postby flynn » 03/14/08 05:21 PM

i do volunteer work quite a bit at nursng homes. close-up work mostly. i tried doing a stand-up show at first but stopped cause theyre a tough crowd im telling you. it would be nice if i could get some ideas about what tricks and routines i can use to put an act together. it would be nice to do an act for them and do strolling magic afterwards. they got to be visual and easy to understand. and also something that wouldnt be too dependant on patter. if anyone could help out with ideas that would be great.
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Postby Damian Odess-Gillett » 03/14/08 10:41 PM

Well Flynn, i started this thread months ago, and the show has come and gone. It was a wonderful success even though my friend there (my original impetus for volunteering there) had been moved to a different location by the time my performance came up!
The activities director was very pleased with the show (thanks All for your comments and suggestions--i took many to heart), and she immediately booked me for another show.
I did a stand up show that was a mix of comedy-infused routines that i typically do for adults, as well as a few of my silly kids' show routines. The elderly are sometimes compared to young children, and i found that certain presentational techniques work for both.
So, in short, the show included the Silver Sceptre, an involved and silly scarf vanish (complete with over-sized props that i handed one able helper), the coloring book (yes, they loved it just as kids do!), a rope routine (i took someone's above advice and looked for an aide to assist as opposed to one of the elderly guests, since timing and reactions were important), 6 card repeat and the egg bag.
As i said, it was a big hit and i was pleased with the amount of attention they gave me. When i did the kids' routines, i left out some of the really silly stuff, so as not to insult their intelligence, and when i did the adult stuff, i was slightly more animated than usual.
It didn't occur to me to try doing any close-up, but interesting to know you've found success there. Good luck to you!
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Postby flynn » 03/15/08 06:50 PM

Thanks for the good ideas and advice Damien.
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Postby Silly Walter » 03/16/08 11:41 PM

Anonymous wrote:Hi,...I'm interested in performing in a home for the elderly, where a friend is now living, but thought i should do a little research first, in case there is anything i should know before going in...

Thanks!


Depends
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Postby Robert Newman » 03/17/08 02:26 AM

Silly Walter wrote:
Anonymous wrote:Hi,...I'm interested in performing in a home for the elderly, where a friend is now living, but thought i should do a little research first, in case there is anything i should know before going in...

Thanks!


Depends


Now that was witty!
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Postby Bob Sanders » 01/25/10 01:52 PM

The Senior citizen market is perhaps the most stable growing market for entertainment in America. Many were very productive in their working years, had wonderful thrift habits, and have responsibly provided well for their senior years to take care of themselves.

Bodies do wear out. That includes mobility, hearing and sight.

Lucy and I try to do nursing home shows during the day in the locations where the theater shows are that night. The shows are some different.

We emphasize music, color and motion. There is very little patter in these shows. But we go hard for large flashy silk productions, doves, and visual effects like rope and newspapers.

For audience participation, there are special challenges. The audience is typically seated around the edge of the recreation hall like a horseshoe since wheel chairs are very common. To get them actively into the show, I like to produce a Line of Silks (usually 36') from an (Improved) THIS and let them pass it around the room from resident to resident and let it return on the other side. They seem to actually like having a part in the show.

You can go back years later and get the common comment, "Remember when I helped you with that long ribbon of colorful flags?"

It is one of the many things that makes this work so great for us.

Give it a try!

Bob Sanders
Magic by Sander
http://www.magicbysander.com/
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Postby mai-ling » 01/25/10 03:40 PM

SN/AL/IL/MC a facilities is where the
abundance of my shows are at.

they are great and once you get into
a few and like you. they'll have you
come back. and when you play enough,
they all know who you are and eventually
your name will get shuffled around.

i have a great rapport i've been building
over the years and have my spiel, questions
and PK ready when ever i do any cold calling.
you will remember my name
http://www.mai-ling.net
world's youngest illusionista

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